THIS IS NOT LIKE US. It’s only 4 pm, yet we’ve already made our mileage for the day, and it appears I’ll also be able to post this before dark. It’s somewhat odd, a little unnerving, but also a great luxury to have made excellent progress today. Often we roll into our target town after dark, hungry, tired, and desperate to find a campsite. What was different about today?
Since we started the Alps, everyday we’ve been making big strides toward our end-goal of Cape Soya, Hokkaido. This has established a nice pattern of progress that it would now be difficult to deviate from without intention. In the morning we break camp quicker and while riding we stop less often at convenience stores. Stopping almost always makes it more difficult to start back up again. So rolling passed the tempting 7-11s has helped us keep up with our large daily kilometer quotas. With the trip coming into the home stretch, we have set our sights on making it to the northernmost point in Japan on or before time. Simply, we have about 1000 km remaining and 11 days in which to do it. There are a few fall-back days before Dylan and Scott need to return to North America just in case, but we’d rather not rely on those.
Today carried on with the built up inertia. We awoke to find that it had rained during the night and that Dylan and I had failed to prepare the tent properly for such precipitation. The result was that my sleeping bag needed some sun-drying while I packed other gear. Mrs.Watanabe secured her spot in the generous-host-Hall-of-Fame by offering us coffee before leaving for work around 8 am. With my sleeping bag more or less dry, we departed.
Kilometers of endless rice field vistas passed quickly despite gusty conditions. After only one restroom break in the morning, the team pulled into a supermarket for a snack and to game-plan the rest of the day. Already having made 50 km before 1 pm, we discovered that we were only 30 km from Niigata where we will be couchsurfing tonight. Snacks finished, we made it easily to Niigata by 2:30pm.
Scott and Dylan stopped by a top-notch cycle shop for repairs to Dylan’s crippled back rack and to true Scott’s front wheel. The owner informed us that we were not the first team of end-to-end bikers who had stopped by “Attack Niigata Cycle Shop.” Apparently, it was visited by the father/son duo Sho and Charles Scott when they cycled Japan in 2009. Before 4pm, we were finished at Attack Niigata and now we sit in a nearby park eagerly anticipating a pasta dish that Dylan is cooking over the gas burner.
Free time is a strange beast. We are currently programmed to be either pedaling, eating, packing, or sleeping. Right now, I’m wondering what to do after I post this and eat. We meet our host at 8 pm and have about 3 hrs to kill. In any case, it will be nice to not set up camp in the dark and also to sleep inside our host’s house. Hopefully, tomorrow we can keep up our mileage momentum and make it all the way to Tsuruoka, 150km from Niigata where we have another couchsurfer host arranged.
Thanks for tuning in!
Calves: Cat Nap